For several months after Donald Trump was elected president, there was, amid the gnashing of teeth of a considerable portion of the media, a concerted focus on how this could have happened. The shock and confusion seemed genuine. Perhaps it was. The essayists and columnists could have saved themselves weeks of harrowing introspection by simply reading a book released in January of 2016. In fact, if they were pressed for time, they could have read a single chapter of the book and the answers they were seeking would have become apparent.
The book is Jane Mayer’s incredible Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right and the chapter in question is number 8 entitled “The Fossils” which focuses on the fuel industry’s war on climate change and on science itself.
Mayer’s research is jaw dropping. She patiently builds her case that a group of extremely wealthy individuals were able to transform public opinion and paralyze political will through a covert and expensive attack that sowed doubt on climate change by hiring non-expert scientists and passing them off as experts, engaging in vicious personal attacks, leaking e-mails and quoting them out of context, running inflammatory television advertising, exaggerating the cost of solutions and lying about the reasons for taking action, slandering and threatening politicians leaning towards supporting environmental regulation, creating the impression that a grass roots anti-regulation movement existed and producing reams of supposedly scientific papers that called climate change into question. Is it any wonder Obama’s two terms seemed to disappoint when any legislation that could impact the profits of the extremely wealthy was met with a similar barrage of resistance?
The United States is an oligarchy. It is run not by elected officials, but by the extremely wealthy who have learned that they don’t need to run for office, because they effectively can control what will be in the legislation passed by those in office. Once you come to terms with this, it answers a lot of questions. If you think I’m overstating this, read Dark Money and see if you still feel that way.